Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about oral hygiene.
How often should I see a dentist?
The American Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings, although we may recommend visits more often for patients who build up deposits (tartar) at a faster rate, or have other special conditions to be monitored.
Why are checkups recommended every six months, even for people with great oral health?
Aside from keeping your teeth sparkling, it is important to catch early warning signs before a problem area can get worse. A cavity can easily be taken care of, but gone unnoticed it can turn into something else quickly.
Keeping a close watch on your teeth and gums through regular cleanings can help avoid periodontal disease. Unhealthy gums are a major warning of problems ahead and the possibility of future tooth loss. This can also be an indication of systemic health problems. In pregnancy, the presence of periodontal/gum disease can affect the baby, possibly causing low birth weight and preterm labor. That’s why regular check-ups are so important for yourself and your family.
How do I get rid of bad breath?
That depends on what is causing it. Often, bad breath results from less-than-optimal oral health, and sometimes people are not aware that they are not performing oral hygiene as effectively as they could be. A dental hygienist or dentist will be able to evaluate your oral health procedures and make recommendations for improvement; also, these professionals will be able to recognize any associated problems that might be contributing to an unpleasant mouth odor. In addition to evaluating and suggesting alterations to your brushing, flossing, and tongue-cleaning regimen, your dental hygienist may recommend products such as a mouth rinse that contains zinc. If it turns out that the problem isn’t in the mouth, a physician appointment is advisable. Sinus problems, stomach problems, certain foods and medications, and other factors can contribute to bad breath.
Is one toothpaste better than others?
Generally, no. However, it’s advisable to use a toothpaste containing fluoride because it has been proven to help decrease the incidence of dental decay. Sometimes we give prescription fluoride toothpaste, especially in cases where there is high evidence of cavities or when a patient has sensitive teeth.
How many times a day should I brush my teeth?
The American Dental Association advocates brushing twice each day. Although there is research indicating that brushing once a day is sufficient to disrupt the formation of plaque that feeds the bacteria that cause decay, this may not be enough for some people, depending on factors such as their diets and the efficacy of their brushing technique. ADHA recommends that you discuss this with your dental hygienist, who understands your individual oral health needs and will be able to make a recommendation appropriate for you.
Which type of toothbrush should I use?
The most important thing is selecting the right type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation, teeth attrition, and abrasion, and contribute to recession of the gums. A toothbrush with a smaller head is simply easier, and allows you to maneuver around each tooth. It is also less likely to injure your gums. It isn’t necessary to scrub hard, but it is recommended that you brush at least twice a day using the proper technique.
Always brush away from the gums, downward direction on upper teeth and upward direction on lower teeth. Electric toothbrushes are also available and can be used to maintain good oral health. What makes a difference is the technique used in brushing.
How do whitening toothpastes work and how effective are they at whitening teeth?
All toothpastes help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching substance) that helps remove stains on the tooth surface as well as stains deep in the tooth. None of the home use whitening toothpastes can come even close to producing the bleaching effect you get from your dentist’s office through chair side bleaching or power bleaching. Whitening toothpastes can lighten your tooth’s color by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist’s office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.
When should a child have his or her first dental appointment?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that a child have his or her first oral health care appointment around age one. ADHA suggests an oral health visit as soon as a baby’s first tooth erupts.
What Causes Tooth Loss?
The most common causes of tooth loss are dental caries, also known as tooth decay, and periodontal disease, which affects the gums and bone structure that support the teeth. Dental caries is the major cause of tooth loss in children, and periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults; however, it too can afflict youngsters.
What is a dental implant and how long will it last?
Dental implants are a safe alternative to bridges, partials, or full dentures. They look, feel, and function like natural teeth because of a titanium anchor attached to the jawbone. Once the implants are secured, your dentist attaches a handcrafted, permanent crown to each post. The restorations match your natural teeth and blend seamlessly with your smile. The life of implants depends upon your age, oral health, and personal hygiene. With proper maintenance, they last most people a lifetime.
As a senior adult, do I really need to be concerned about cavities anymore?
Actually, cavities can be more frequent in older adults for a number of reasons. Life-long exposure to fluoride through community water supplies and toothpaste may not have been a possibility for some of our oldest seniors — it simply wasn’t available when these seniors were growing up. Also, adults are more likely to have decay around older fillings.
When is a crown necessary? Do they have to be metal or can they be the color of my teeth?
A crown is the restoration of a severely broken tooth by covering all or most of the tooth after removing old fillings, fractured tooth structure, and any resulting decay. You have a choice of restoration material: gold, porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal crowns.
What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?
Sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth – usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) – to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
What is TMJ?
TMJs, or temporomandibular joints, connect the lower jaw with the temporal bone. TMJ disorder occurs when physical or emotional stress causes the joints to dysfunction. These joints are highly sensitive and a little added stress is all it takes to throw them out of line. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include frequent headaches, jaw clicking, jaw, and neck and back pain. TMJ disorder can be treated with simple, non-surgical therapies. We can custom design mouthguards that reposition the jaw and alleviate TMJ related symptoms.